Superstorm Sandy Upsets East Coast

Superstorm Sandy has been classified a hurricane, a nor’easter and even dumped as much as a foot of snow on parts of the United States and has claimed more than 85 lives.

There is estimated to be up to $50 billion in costs associated with the disaster that the Department of Energy said knocked out more electricity than any storm in history.

An estimated 7.6 million people are believed to have been without power at one point.

News outlets reported that as many as 20 states were affected. Sandy caused problems as far west as Illinois, as far north as Maine, and south to the Carolinas.

Ohio, Kentucky and other inland states experienced strong winds and winter storms.

Along the coast, New Jersey appeared to have suffered the most damage and destruction. More than 2.3 million people were without power in New Jersey and 1.8 million were without power in New York.

Washington, D.C., was thought to be directly in the path of the storm and was expected to have extensive damage. Flooding, downed power lines, trees and limbs caused government and private offices and schools to be closed early in the week, but the nation’s Capitol managed to avoid extensive damage.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said the power outages and downed trees affected them the most. No damage actually occurred at their offices located in downtown Washington, D.C.

“The most significant impact the storm had on us was not being able to be in the office for two days,” Walsh said. “In this world of electronic media we were able to do our work, though not as much as if we were here.”

Closing of mass transportation and the closure of government offices is what lead to USCCB closing their offices, Walsh noted.

Clean-up has just begun, and with widespread power outages, officials say recovery will be one step at a time, as needs are assessed and waters recede, showing the real extent of damage and help needed.

Catholic Charities USA worked with its local agencies in the affected areas in the days before the storm in order “to ensure they have provisions in place to provide for any possible needs the hurricane may create in their communities,” the group said. Local agencies along the East Coast will be able to provide disaster relief and recovery services after the storm, including food, shelter, counseling and financial support.

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